The truth about my job

“You Have Jet Lag All the Time”

The rumour

Whether it’s about some crisis or complicated political development, people think I know everything. As a newsreader, you’re considered a kind of walking Wikipedia. That’s flattering, of course. But unfortunately it’s not always true. The reactions are interesting when I say that I “only” say the news. The response of “I see…” sometimes reverberates with a small disappointment, along the lines of ,”I see… I would have thought that was a more demanding job.” Of course, they don’t say that directly; it’s subtle. Recently, I heard a funny story from a mother friend of mine. The daughter, she told me, had said, “She has it good. She only has to work 15 minutes a day!” But I’ll let her get away with it. She’s eight.


The truth

I first worked for an advertising agency after finishing school then did an apprenticeship in radio, where I learned to write news and present it, and then ended up in television. Now I’m a newscaster. A typical news day looks like this: when I have the 8 p.m. news show, I’m at the station at 6 p.m.. I turn on my computer, get my makeup done, pick out my clothes, have to be wired and lit. From 7:30 p.m. I have the news available and read it out loud. I check, for example, whether there are any difficult names which I need to look up in our pronunciation database. If, for example, in Mexico or Kuala Lumpur a government spokesperson says something, then hopefully this name is in the database. The really difficult thing about my job is the working hours. I have between eight and thirteen assignments a month. There is no fixed rhythm—I work in the evening, in the afternoon, at night and sometimes very early in the morning, and all this in wild alternation. It can happen that one day I’m at the station at 4.30 a.m. and the next at 11 p.m. for the night shift. It’s like flying around the world once, basically you have jet lag all the time. I haven’t had a proper sleep rhythm in years.

When something dramatic happens, it can really drag me down. I still remember the Breivik case, the mass murder in Norway. I was on duty that day and was totally shocked. Reports about famines or war zones are also difficult, especially when children are shown. As a mother it is difficult to bear that. In such cases I have gotten used to looking away during the show, to not to lose my composure. My work clothes are like a doctor’s coat for me; they create distance. In my private life I tend to be sporty, wearing jeans, a thick jacket, a cap, and a scarf. People may look but they don’t know exactly how to place me. Most often I am recognized by my voice. The fact that I live in Hamburg is a big advantage—people there are rather reserved.

What is sometimes annoying is having my migrational background brought up, which was never an issue until I became a Tagesschau newsreader. Then it was a constant theme, but it never meant anything to me. Playing this card was therefore never an option, it would be insincere.

What will I do in ten, twenty years? I don’t know. In the course of my life I have learned that it makes no sense to plan far too in advance.


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